Cyclones find identity despite loss to No. 3 Kansas


Jacob Rice

Demarion Watson and Gradey Dick collide at the 2023 Big 12 Tournament Semifinals versus Kansas in the T-Mobile Center, Mar. 10.

Andrew Harrington, Managing Editor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Iowa State’s run at the Big 12 Tournament title came to an end Friday, being outmatched by top-seeded Kansas in a 71-58 loss.

The run ended for the Cyclones, but after struggling mightily at times during the back-half of Big 12 play, the players felt as if they had found their identity again.

Iowa State struggled as a team offensively in the first half, turning the ball over 12 times in addition to going 10-25 shooting.

Notably quiet in the half was one of Iowa State’s top scorers, Gabe Kalscheur. Kalscheur totaled 24 points on an efficient 9-15 shooting against Baylor but struggled in the first half against Kansas.

Kalscheur posted just six points on 2-8 shooting in the opening frame, and the Cyclones needed a second half turnaround, as they trailed 33-25.

Through the offensive struggles, Jaren Holmes said it is the defense that has to help get the team back in the game.

“We just didn’t get those 50-50 balls towards the end where we normally get,” Holmes said. “Those type of moments, playing a team and university like that can’t happen.”

After a pair of early second half threes from Holmes, the offense went silent once more. Iowa State shot just 12-30 in the second half, tacking on another 10 turnovers along the way.

“We’re going to always play off our defense,” Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “We did that to get back in it, then it kind of got away from us again there later on in the second.”

Iowa State lost eight of 10 games heading into the regular season finale against Baylor, the No. 7 team in the country entering the matchup.

Iowa State found a win over Baylor, before beating them once more at the Big 12 Tournament. The matchup against No. 3 Kansas did not go the way of the Cyclones; however, the team has started to lean on the work habits Otzelberger speaks on frequently.

“This team is special. We’ve shown that a lot throughout this season,” Kalscheur said. “It’s about how you respond. It’s not about looking back.”

Tre King and Robert Jones discuss strategy amidst game against Kansas at Big 12 Tournament. (Jacob Rice)

The focus for the Cyclones will now shift to the NCAA Tournament. Selection Sunday will conclude the weekend, and the Cyclones will find out if, when and where their season will continue.

When asked if he would like to play “bracketologist” to predict where the Cyclones will wind up, Otzelberger made his stance clear.

“No,” Otzelberger said.

Playing three-straight games against two of the best teams in the country may be a factor in how the Cyclones are able to perform the rest of the way.

“Whoever we’re going to play is going to be in for a treat,” Kalscheur said.